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3. Good works model . A truly ethical model goes beyond abiding by the law or
preventing harm. An ethical design professional excels beyond the standards
and codes and does the right thing to improve product safety, public health,
or social welfare. An analytical tool related to this model is the net goodness
model, which estimates the goodness or wrongness of an action by weighing
its morality, likelihood, and importance.
This model is rooted in moral development theories such as those expounded
by Kohlberg, 14 Piaget, 15 and Rest, 16 who noted that moral action is a complex
process entailing four components: moral awareness (or sensitivity), moral judg-
ment, moral motivation, and moral character. The actor must first be aware that
the situation is moral in nature; that is, at least that the actions considered would
have consequences for others. Second, the actor must have the ability to judge
which of the potential actions would yield the best outcome, giving consideration
to those likely to be affected. Third, the actor must be motivated to prioritize
moral values above other sorts of values, such as wealth or power. Fourth, the
actor must have the strength of character to follow through on a decision to act
Piaget, Kohlberg, and others (e.g., Duska and Whelan 17 ) have noted that the
two most important factors in determining a person's likelihood of behaving
morally—that is, of being morally aware, making moral judgments, prioritizing
moral values, and following through on moral decisions—are age and education.
Applied to professional ethics, age may better translate to time (experience) in the
design field. Experience 18 seems to be particularly critical regarding moral judg-
ment: A person's ability to make moral judgments tends to grow with maturity as
he or she pursues further education, generally reaching its final and highest stage
of development in early adulthood. This is analogous to professional, continuing
education and experiences. A general theory of moral development is illustrated
in Table 6.2.
Kohlberg insisted that these steps are progressive. He noted that in the two
earliest stages of moral development, which he combined under the heading
“preconventional level,” a person is motivated primarily by the desire to seek
pleasure and avoid pain. The conventional level consists of stages 3 and 4: In
stage 3 the consequences that actions have for peers and their feelings about
these actions; in stage 4, considering how the wider community will view the
actions and be affected by them. Few people reach the postconventional stage,
wherein they have an even broader perspective: Their moral decision making
is guided by universal moral principles 19 : that is, by principles that reasonable
people would agree should bind the actions of all people who find themselves in
similar situations.
A normative model of green engineering can be developed along the same
lines. The moral need to consider the impact that one's actions will have on
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